The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said it is applauding the Senate’s passage of a pension relief bill that ATA believes will help ease the financial strain on American businesses due to the lagging economy and current volatility in the financial markets.
“Short-term, emergency relief for single employer and multi-employer pension plans will help the trucking industry and all businesses cope with the challenges presented by the faltering economy,” said Bill Graves, ATA president. “We urge President Bush to sign this important legislation.”
ATA said the bill, known as the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008, would alleviate the financial burden of corporations that have faced stricter pension funding requirements since passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent just one day after the House passed it by voice vote.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 required companies that failed to meet targeted funding percentages in a particular year to contribute funds covering those missed target amounts. Typically, this shields employees from exposure to market volatility. However, in today’s economic climate, employers are facing pension costs that are significantly higher than last year’s. This comes at a time when the trucking industry is facing declining freight volumes, decreased revenues, and a growing number of bankruptcies, ATA said.
Provisions within the legislation include an optional one-year freeze on changes in a pension plan’s zone status, and the addition of three years to the funding improvement and rehabilitation periods for pension plans in the yellow or red zone in 2008 and 2009, according to ATA information.